US President Joe Biden reaffirms backing for Israel in wake of Iran’s attack

US President Joe Biden reaffirms backing for Israel in wake of Iran's attack
Dozens of Iranian attack drones launched toward Israel

Washington, D.C., United States | By Michael Wandati | On Saturday, in response to Iran’s “unprecedented” attack on Israel, U.S. President Joe Biden has restated the U.S’s unwavering commitment to Israel’s security, emphasizing its “ironclad” nature.

The assault encompassed over 300 drones and missiles, with additional launches occurring in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. Among the projectiles fired at Israel were 120 ballistic missiles and 30 cruise missiles.

President Biden emphasized that American military assets stationed in the region played a pivotal role in intercepting the majority of the incoming drones and missiles aimed at the nation.

This assault poses a grave threat, potentially escalating the already intense six-month conflict gripping the Middle East.

Furthermore, Biden disclosed that he had engaged in a phone conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday evening. During the call, he reiterated America’s unwavering commitment to Israel’s security.

In response to Iran’s aggressive attack, the U.S. president announced his intention to convene the leaders of the Group of Seven (G7). Their objective will be to synchronize efforts and craft a unified diplomatic response to Iran’s audacious actions.

“My team will engage with their counterparts across the region. And we will stay in close touch with Israel’s leaders,” said Biden in a statement. “And while we have not seen attacks on our forces or facilities today, we will remain vigilant to all threats and will not hesitate to take all necessary action to protect our people,” President Biden said.

Joe Bidens’s full statement on Iran’s attack on Israel

Earlier on Saturday, Biden returned to Washington to preside over an urgent all-encompassing meeting following Iran’s launch of approximately 200 missiles and drones towards Israel.

The assault prompted immediate condemnation from both U.S. allies and humanitarian officials. As the initial objects appeared overhead in the region, air raid sirens wailed in Jerusalem and Northern Israel, amplifying the urgency and gravity of the situation.

Prior to the recent attack, Iranian officials had made explicit promises to retaliate for an Israeli airstrike on Iran’s Damascus consulate that occurred on April 1st.

On early Saturday evening, Biden shared a photograph of himself alongside Cabinet and intelligence officials gathered in the Situation Room. In a statement accompanying the post, disseminated on the social media platform X, he reaffirmed, “Our commitment to Israel’s security against threats from Iran and its proxies is ironclad.”

President Joe Biden met with the national security team following Iran’s attack on Israel.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said U.S. forces in the Middle East “intercepted dozens of missiles and UAVs en route to Israel, launched from Iran, Iraq, Syria and Yemen.”

“Our forces remain postured to protect U.S. troops and partners in the region, provide further support for Israel’s defence, and enhance regional stability,” Austin said in a statement late Saturday.

“We call on Iran to immediately halt any further attacks, including from its proxy forces, and to de-escalate tensions,” said the U.S. defence chief. “We do not seek conflict with Iran, but we will not hesitate to act to protect our forces and support the defence of Israel.”

In a statement, Pentagon press secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder conveyed that Defense Secretary Austin engaged in a second conversation with his Israeli counterpart, Yoav Gallant, on Saturday. Ryder commended the remarkable defensive actions and robust cooperation employed to thwart the Iranian assault against Israel.

Meanwhile, U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak denounced Tehran’s “reckless” attack in a formal statement.

“The UK will continue to stand up for Israel’s security and that of all our regional partners, including Jordan and Iraq,” he said in a statement. “Alongside our allies, we are urgently working to stabilize the situation and prevent further escalation. No one wants to see more bloodshed.”

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also released a statement condemning the attack and urged for an immediate cessation of hostilities.

“I am deeply alarmed about the very real danger of a devastating region-wide escalation,” he said in a statement. “I urge all parties to exercise maximum restraint to avoid any action that could lead to major military confrontations on multiple fronts in the Middle East.”

On Friday, Biden had forewarned reporters of an imminent Iranian attack on Israel, stating he anticipated it “sooner rather than later.” When asked by a journalist for his message to Iran, the president tersely replied, “Don’t.”

Confirming the heightened military activity, defense officials disclosed that the U.S. military had initiated the movement of additional troops and equipment to strategic locations in the Middle East. Currently, approximately 40,000 troops are stationed in the region.

Earlier that day, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin conversed with Israeli counterpart Yoav Gallant, assuring Israel of unwavering U.S. support against any assaults orchestrated by Iran and its regional proxies.

In anticipation of the Iranian attack, the U.S. Navy deployed two guided-missile destroyers, equipped to intercept drones and incoming missiles, closer to Israel, as reported by The Wall Street Journal. This proactive measure echoes previous instances where U.S. Navy Red Sea forces intercepted long-range missiles launched from Yemen towards Israel by Iranian-aligned Houthi forces.

An air-defense system seen from Ashkelon, Israel, responds after Iran launched its broad aerial assault on the country. 

The response from Biden’s administration to the Iranian attack will be closely monitored, particularly by his political adversaries, as it unfolds less than seven months prior to the general election rematch between the Democratic incumbent and his Republican predecessor, Donald Trump.

Addressing supporters at a rally in Schnecksville, Pennsylvania, on Saturday, Trump asserted that the attack “would not have happened if we were in office.” However, he did not provide further elaboration on his statement.

“God bless the people of Israel,” he said. “They are under attack right now. That’s because we show great weakness.”

Prior to the Iranian drones breaching Israeli airspace, several Republican lawmakers began voicing their reactions.

Representative Steve Scalise from Louisiana took to X, formerly Twitter, asserting that the United States “must stand strongly with our greatest Middle East ally as they defend themselves against Iran.” He emphasized that the Biden administration “cannot continue to capitulate to terrorists.”

Similarly, Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee urged swift action from Biden, urging him to “move quickly and launch aggressive retaliatory strikes on Iran” in a message shared on X.

In contrast, Democrat Chris Coons, hailing from Biden’s home state of Delaware, expressed condemnation while also advocating for American lawmakers to approve Biden’s request for military aid to Israel.

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“The House should promptly pass this coming week the long-delayed national security supplemental to ensure that our Israeli allies have everything they need to defend themselves from attacks by Iran and its proxies,” he said.

Some analysts suggested that Biden’s indecision regarding the conflict may have influenced Tehran’s decision to launch the strike.

“President Biden needs to provide unwavering political support to see Israel through this critical time,” Foundation for Defense of Democracies CEO Mark Dubowitz said in a statement sent to VOA. “Biden’s wavering support for Israel in recent months, and the threat from some Democrats to cut off military support, surely emboldened [Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei.”

Trita Parsi, co-founder and executive vice president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, emphasized via email to VOA that “had Biden pressed for a cease-fire from the outset, all of this would have been avoided.”

“This is the direct result of Biden’s bearhug of Israel – that is, constantly bending to Netanyahu’s desires and preferences,” he said. “If Biden had condemned the Israeli attack on the Iranian consulate and allowed the UNSC [U.N. Security Council] to condemn it, Iran might have stopped short of attacking Israel.”